Technical Innovation

The development of science and technology is a gradual continuum, but when the pressure of practical necessity reaches critical mass, revolutionary inventions can arise. Between 1935 and 1945, as the world prepared for and engaged in World War II, aviation advances made unparalleled leaps. One astonishing innovation led to another as global powers competed for mastery of the skies. Those innovations – powerful propeller engines, radar, jet propulsion, and the atomic bomb itself – transformed the world.

That technical revolution had an enormous impact on contemporary life, ultimately leading to the development of modern aviation and aerospace technologies, which, in their turn, serve as a foundation for future innovation.

Innovation Themes:

Fuselage, wings, materials, and aerodynamics – lighter, stronger airframes, Plexiglas windscreens, retractable landing gear, and wing flaps led to more maneuverable, safer airplanes.
Engines and superchargers – with greater horsepower, airplanes could carry bigger bombs and heavier armor and fly higher, longer, faster.
Bombs, missiles, and defensive guns – heavier, more accurate bombs increased the airplane's destructive capacity. Better anti-aircraft guns helped reduce ship and ground casualties.
   Means and Capacity
Capital, labor, production methods, and raw materials – building airplanes in ever-greater numbers required a large infusion of human and natural resources, combined with modern production techniques.
   Support Technology
Communications, navigation, instrumentation, and radar – a wide range of breakthroughs made airplanes more reliable, able to fly in bad weather and to carry out complex, long-range attacks with precision and accuracy.
   Political Will
Government leadership and popular support – driven by ambition or the need to survive – or both – the countries of World War II focused vast financial and political resources on the development of superior air power and secured widespread support from their citizens.